6 Tips for an Easier Morning Routine with Kids

Racing the clock each morningUsually when I hear discussions of crazy morning routines, it sounds like the kids are behind the chaos. If only they would get up when the alarm goes off, or eat their cereal and stop asking for pancakes!

Here's my confession. In my house, I am the major culprit behind the morning crazies.

Yes, my 5-year old will dawdle. Time is a meaningless term for her. My husband is the early bird, ensuring my daughter gets up and has a decent breakfast. Me? I struggle to rise because I'm a night owl. In my first half hour, I make lunches and gather school supplies in a barely muttering, zombie-like state. In the next half hour, I'm already running behind, I need to shower and dress (to my credit, I do both quickly), so I let my daughter watch Sesame Street or Curious George. She becomes hypnotized and distracted, holding the clothes she is supposed to be putting on.

The clock ticks down. I get stressed as I supervise her painstakingly-slow tooth brushing and hair combing. Maddeningly, the more I stress, the more she slows down. Still, she shouldn't have to ask so often, "Mommy, are we late again?"

Why don't I get smart here?

Turns out, many of us are walking examples of what social science folk call "the knowledge-behavior gap." Basically, we know what we should be doing; we're just not doing it yet (or very well). When we get basic tips on how to do better, that is often not enough. We may actually need a mental shove.

Are you morning-challenged too? If so, here's a "basic tips plus mental shoves" list I came up with to help me in my pursuit of stress-free mornings. Help yourself!

Tip 1: Make as much of your child's lunch as possible the night before. Mental shove: You don't really want to touch sliced turkey, smell tuna or cut fruits and veggies into clever shapes in the morning, do you?

Tip 2: Ensure that both you and your kids get ample sleep. It will make the morning routine and school/work day easier on everyone. Mental shove: This means you, night-owl. No starting a Real Housewives marathon at midnight!

Tip 3: Lay out clothing the night before. It saves time, and you can hash out clothing debates in advance. Mental shove: Don't leave "all the good clothes" in the dryer again, forming canyon-size wrinkles. Touch-up cycles are a time-suck.

Tip 4: Never skip breakfast. There are fast and healthy options (whole grain cereals and toast, fruit, milk, yogurt, oatmeal, etc.). Mental shove: Who are you kidding? Coffee and a slice of leftover pizza may be fast, but it ain't healthy.

Tip 5: Get ready first. Establish a rule that your child has to be "out-the-door ready" for school first, before any morning screen time (if any) is allowed. Mental shove: That means you too, parents. How much time do you lose "just taking a minute" to check messages?

Tip 6: Create buy-in. Ask your child for ideas they have for making the morning routine easier. Mental shove: You aren't allowed to reply: "Your rules are too hard!" I'm the tired grown-up!" or "Just one more minute and I'll get up."

Are you doing anything that mucks up your morning schedule? If so, what's your mental shove strategy to do better?

Content by Maya Hope's Mom.